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Minneapolis – It’s The Big Mini-Apple!

Sareda Dirir kicks off her shoes and willingly surrenders herself to the Mid-West’s party city

Written by . Published on June 17th 2013.

Minneapolis – It’s The Big Mini-Apple!

“YOU see my dear...” giggles 84-year-old Joanne conspiratorially, as we both eye up the same pair of fierce red stilettos in Macy's Minneapolis, “...I try to  face each day with faith not fear. My granddaughter tells me I'm a hot mess, but those shoes have got my name all over them.”

'Try their Anglophile Cocktail – a whole egg, Licor 43, Angostura bitters, and bourbon. A couple of these and the UK is  little more than a distant memory'

Somehow I'm not surprised. It's pretty hard not to have a good time in this town, whatever your age. It may just be that the area is coming to the end of a typically harsh and relentless winter but it's a place seemingly ripe with positive and disarming encounters. This warm and welcoming nature has been noted, across America and has even given rise to a well-used phrase “Minnesota-nice”.

Minneapolis- Nourished By The Majestic Mississippi RiverMinneapolis – nourished by the majestic Mississippi River

This vibrant Mid-Western city with a population of around 400,000 spans both banks of the Mississippi and adjoins the state's capital, Saint Paul. Since its incorporation as a city in 1867, Minneapolis has thrived, both as a financial and cultural hub. Now, served by a number of universities and colleges, the area has developed a social scene that simultaneously plays host to high-flying professionals, students, locals and tourists.

Graves 601 Wyndham Grand HotelGraves 601 Wyndham Grand Hotel

If you fancy a piece of this party but you'd like to do it in style, stay at The Graves 601 on 1st Avenue. The amber-bathed interior references cool, seductive Scandinavian design- from the stalactite-inspired light installations in the opulent bar, to the hand-carved, beech wood-cuttings in the upper lobby. The restaurant, Cosmos, is the only Four-Diamond restaurant in the entire state and serves elegant and decidedly un-American portions. The penthouse enjoys fabulous views and (for all those closet Liberace fans) houses an unlocked and unsupervised baby grand.

Kieran's Irish PubKieran's Irish pub in full swing

Just next door is Kieran's, one of the largest Irish bars in the city. Many of its customers are the well-heeled delegates from The Graves, dropping by to sink a Guinness or four and catch the big game after the big meeting. It may be this  natural pairing of high-end glamour and easy-going informality that makes this city  such a damn fun night out?

Who knows...? But it works.

Marvel Bar %26#8211%3B Opulent SpeakeasyMarvel Bar – opulent speakeasy

Early evening and every corner has a tempting doorway. If you know the password sneak into Marvel – a traditional speakeasy with an unmarked entrance. Feeling a little homesick? Try their Anglophile Cocktail – a whole egg, Licor 43, Angostura bitters, and bourbon. A couple of these and the UK is  little more than a distant memory.

Rooftop terraces are big news here. There's Union, specialising in fine dining and craft beers or Seven, a luxury steakhouse and sushi bar. If you can handle it, they boast a  house-speciality of a 24 oz, 35 day-aged Omaha Beef steak. Apparently it's one of the best cuts in the world.

Shopping is a well-kept secret in Minneapolis; an anomalous state law means that sales tax is set at 0 per cent, so there are no nasty surprises at the cash desk. Happily, it's also  home to Mall of America, one of the largest shopping centres  in the country. Take the Metro Blue-line along Hiawatha Avenue and explore 4.2 million square feet of retail heaven. If that's not enough of a high there's a full-sized roller coaster running through the centre to really get the adrenalin flowing. 

Even The Bikes Are NiceTake a bike to get to the Walker Art Centre

The Famous Spoonbridge And CherryThe iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry

Culture and the Arts are big in the city. Take a spin on a hire-by-the-hour pedal bike up to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden near the Walker Art Centre. (The Spoonbridge and Cherry is one of the city's most  iconic pieces.)  Or maybe a romantic stroll across the Stone Arch Bridge at the foot of the thundering St Anthony Falls and  catch a matinee at the world-famous Guthrie Theatre.

Heading back downtown you hit the bustling business district, housing glass-fronted offices, shops and restaurants, interconnected by the Skyway – an ingenious, weatherproof network of covered walkways. Even if you're not a customer, the magnificent  Art Deco surroundings of the old North-Western National Bank in the Wells Fargo Centre are definitely worth a visit. Rose-marble pillars and dazzling Austrian crystal and burnished bronze chandeliers; it'd be  hard to feel gloomy about an overdraft in surroundings like these.

Wells Fargo CentreWells Fargo Centre at twilight; below, historic downtown splendour

The Rich Urban Sprawl Of Downtown Minneapolis.

Early evening and the office workers loosen their ties, sling their jackets across their desk and the city comes alive. Revellers pour in from all across the state and the region's huge student population adds to the happy chaos. It can get a little wild at times (there's stern-looking door-staff at the pizza parlours to control the crowds at throwing-out time) but it never feels edgy

At the end of the evening, roll into Brothers, a joyous and rowdy bar, unselfconsciously championing Eighties hits and rock classics. The edge of the heaving dance-floor is delineated by a precariously-positioned dartboard. It's in play throughout the night, adding to the excitement and keeping those dancers moving.

A night in Minneapolis can wipe you out, so you'll need just the right place for the morning after. Try Hell's Kitchen on 80/9th Street, nothing, (they are keen to point out) to do with the grumpy Scot. It's an ambitious local enterprise with an earnest, homespun approach. Their secret recipe peanutbutter is sold all over the world and even the ketchup is home-made

Give it an hour or two, a couple of their famous lemon-ricotta pancakes and a mug of their strongest coffee, and you'll be ready to do Minneapolis all over again...


Fact file

Getting there:
Year-round Virgin flights to Minneapolis (via NY, Boston,Washington), seasonal flights via Chicago www.virginatlantic.com

Staying there:
The Graves 601 www.graves601hotel.com

Kieran's Irish Bar www.kierans.com
Marvel www.marvelbar.com
Union www.unionmpls.com
Seven www.7mpls.com
Mall of America www.mallofamerica.com
Walker Art Centre www.walkerart.org
Guthrie Theatre www.guthrietheater.org
Well's Fargo Centre www.wellsfargo.com 
Brothers www.brothersbar.com
Hell's Kitchen www.hellskitcheninc.com

An Exuberant Statue Dedicated To The Actress Mary Tyler, Moore Stands Outside Macy's. She Starred In A Seventies Sitcom Set In The City Department StoreAn exuberant statue dedicated to the actress Mary Tyler Moore stands outside Macy's. She starred in a Seventies sitcom set in the city

Riverside Dining At Marcy-HolmesRiverside Dining At Marcy-Holmes; below, honeycomb BBQ chicken

Honeycomb Bbq Chicken At Marcy-Holmes

Go Large At Candyland With A 6 Gallon Popcorn VatGo large at Candyland with a 6 and a half gallon popcorn vat

White Picket And Lapboard On The City OutskirtsWhite picket and clapboard in the suburbs

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